The Reaching Rural Initiative brings together rural practitioners from different professional backgrounds and communities throughout the country to build a national network of rural communities committed to adopting bold solutions to the persistent challenge of substance use in rural communities. The inaugural class of 67 fellows reflects diverse disciplines and unique experiences, including law enforcement, public health, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, judges, behavioral health, elected county leadership, recovery support organizations, and other community-based providers.

Fellows are selected through a competitive application process and participate in the Reaching Rural Initiative through one of two tracks, either as part of a cross-sector team from their community or as individuals. Fellows meet monthly, virtually and in-person, to examine their local and regional challenges and identify opportunities to serve justice-involved individuals with substance use or co-occurring disorders more effectively.

Throughout the year-long program, fellows learn directly from rural practitioners and each other, receive coaching, and participate in skill-building workshops and peer-to-peer learning experiences. The Reaching Rural Initiative is co-sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the State Justice Institute (SJI).

United States Map of Rural Responses to Opioid Epidemic Sites without labels